Why Belonging is essential to achieve peak performance

Belonging is primal, fundamental to our sense of happiness and well-being.

A sense of social belonging can affect motivation and continued persistence, even on impossible tasks. That is, if you don’t feel like you belong, you are both less motivated and less likely to hang in there in the face of obstacles.

From this it is clear how creating a sense of belonging in your employees can lead to huge improvements in performance that would not have otherwise been possible.

Research conducted by psychologists Geoff MacDonald at the University of Toronto and Mark R. Leary at Duke University found that when we have a sense of belonging, when we feel accepted, welcomed and included, we are more likely to experience positive emotions such as happiness, calm and satisfaction. And, as workers. we are likely to:

  • Be more productive. 
  • Be more helpful to our co-workers without the need for personal gain. 
  • Encourage and support one another. 
  • Work more cooperatively with other teams. 
  • Take fewer sick days or be late to work. 

According to Greg Stewart, Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Iowa, A sense of belonging and attachment to a group of co-workers is a better motivator for some employees than money.

Instilling  a sense of belonging in your employees is essential to both create the best work environment for your employees that you can and also to enable them to excel.


Inner Work Life – The Power of Negative Events

Your first action has to be to remove obstacles that cause setbacks to inner work life.


Because one setback has more power to effect inner work life than one incident that causes progress. The effect of setbacks on emotions is stronger than the effect of progress.

  • The power of setbacks to diminish happiness is more than twice as strong as the power of progress to boost happiness. The power of setbacks to increase frustration is more than three times as strong as the power of progress to decrease frustration. 
  • Small losses can overwhelm small wins. Similarly, small everyday hassles at work hold more sway than small everyday supports. 
  • Negative team leader behaviors affect inner work life more broadly than positive team leader behaviors. 
  • The connection between mood and negative work events is about five times stronger than the connection between mood and positive events. 
  • Employees recall more negative leader actions than positive actions, and they recall the negative actions more intensely and in more detail than the positive ones.
Precisely because they are less powerful in affecting inner work life, try and ensure that good events at work outnumber the bad. In particular, try to reduce daily hassles.
Even your small actions to remove obstacles impeding the progress of individuals and teams can make a big difference for inner work life which means a big difference in performance.

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

Inner Work Life – The Key Three Influences

Positive inner work life

The progress principle

Events signifying progress, including:

  • Small wins
  • Breakthroughs
  • Forward movement
  • Goal completion

The catalyst factor

Events supporting the work, including:

  • Setting clear goals
  • Allowing autonomy
  • Providing resources
  • Providing sufficient time
  • Helping with the work
  • Learning from problems and successes
  • Allowing ideas to flow

The nourishment factor

Events supporting the person, including:

  • Respect
  • Encouragement
  • Emotional support
  • Affiliation

Inner Work Life – How it is influenced

In the book The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer we learn what events impact a employees inner work life both for the better, and the worse.

Three types of events are particularly potent forces for supporting positive inner work life in employees:

  1. Progress – in meaningful work;
  2. Catalysts – events that directly help the progress of the work such as clear goals and autonomy;
  3. Nourishes – Interpersonal events that uplift the people doing the work such as encouragement and demonstrations of respect.
Out of the three the single most powerful is the first, progress in meaningful work.
As a manager you need to know why people come to work every day, what makes them stay and what drives them to perform at their best. The best leaders are able to build a team of employees who have satisfying inner work lives: consistently positive emotions, strong motivation; and favorable perceptions of the organization, their work, and their colleagues.

Inner Work Life – Why it Matters

Inner work life has a huge impact on four major areas of people’s performance at work: creativity, productivity, work commitment and teamwork.

Inner work life should be extremely important to managers because ultimately everything depends on great performance by the people that make up the organization.

Inner work life matters deeply to employees as it is a major factor in their level of overall happiness.

Poor inner work life resulting from stress leads to increases in physical illness and absenteeism while positive inner work life leads to high levels of creativity, productivity, commitment to the work that needs doing and positive, constructive teamwork with colleagues.